Dear zamis -- Thank you very much for that excerpt. It was so refreshing -- especially for someone as lazy as I am about reading. How kind of him to say what many may not want to hear. Wish I'd said that!
It is hard not to get swallowed up by 'domesticated' Buddhism. There's a hell of a lot to be said for being kinder and more thoughtful than we have in the past. Not only is there a lot to be said for altruism, there are a lot of people saying it. The Dalai Lama is an apparent example. "My religion is kindness," he said, and it's hard not to fall in love with the statement and perhaps try to emulate it as a kind of altruism.
Let me say: Altruism is good.
Let me repeat: Altruism is good.
Let me say it again: Altruism is good.
No kidding, altruism is good. It is good for society. It is good for the one exhibiting it. Yes, altruism is very good stuff.
Domesticated Buddhism is not so good. For those who are serious in their practice, they must go where the dangers lurk, where undomesticated Buddhism flourishes, where compassion and clarity are more than a pat on the head and a good command of the texts. I am not saying anything is mistaken or wrong or naughty. I am saying that without entering the undomesticated realms that dwell in the heart, well, altruism flourishes and Buddhism wilts.
The domestication of Buddhism presents what may be a very good platform for the limitlessness of Buddhism. But the fact is that those who are serious will have to leap off that platform. Remaining on that platform is referred to in Zen as "nesting" -- securing a perch without ever taking flight.
My experience is that it is in formal practice that the willingness to take flight grows. Goodness is good, but is goodness enough? It's a serious question, I think. And it is in formal attentive practice that the question gains force and, somehow, MUST be answered. It is not enough to imagine or praise flight. It is only enough to fly. When you fly, the sky's the limit and the limitless is your home ... a home without the domestication or any other attribute of either safety or danger.
I am not, with all this blither, trying to disdain domestication or elevate the undomesticated. That would just be more domestication. I just think that the courageous and patient practice that we practice does not find its meaning in some nicely-tinted religion or made-up "compassion." Start with altruism -- sure. But go the extra step, dare yourself, de-domesticate what has been so nicely domesticated. Go ahead and fly ... and don't doubt for a moment that such flight could ever be right or wrong. It's just flying, after all.
Obviously you pressed my buzzers. Sorry for so many words.